Grow a Dwarf Hydrangea in Pots and Small Spaces
Even a small patio or porch can have big, bold blooms in the summer with dwarf hydrangea.
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If you have a tiny outdoor space, like a patio or porch, but want big hydrangea blooms in the summer, try a dwarf hydrangea. It’s a mini version of regular hydrangea and grows easily in containers.
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Choose the Right Dwarf Hydrangea for Your Zone
If you want your dwarf hydrangea to come back every year, consider your plant hardiness zone. Select a hydrangea that can successfully grow two more zones north. For example, if you live in Zone 6, choose a hydrangea that can also thrive in Zone 4. This will make it a more sure bet that when winter comes, your hydrangea will be able to withstand the cold and you can leave it outside all winter.
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Picking a Pot or Container
A good-sized pot will be large enough that there’s room for your small hydrangea to grow but small enough that it won’t get waterlogged. A pot that’s 16 to 24 inches wide and deep is the average recommendation.
When picking out a container for your hydrangea, pay attention to the material it’s made out of. A clay or terracotta pot can crack in winter. A container made out of heavy plastic, stone or fiberglass are much more weather-resistant. No matter what container type you choose, make sure it has at least one drainage hole at the bottom.
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Light Needs for Dwarf Hydrangeas
Just like full-size hydrangeas, most dwarf hydrangeas do well in part sun or full sun. There are some varieties that can handle partial shade. If your hydrangea is in a spot that’s too shady, it won’t be able to bloom. Too much sun can cause wilting. Always check the specific light needs of your dwarf hydrangeas before picking a place to plant them.
Water and Soil Needs for Dwarf Hydrangeas
Container soil dries out faster than garden soil. Check on your dwarf hydrangeas every day to see if the soil is moist. Make sure you see water coming out of the bottom of the container, so you know it’s been watered thoroughly.
Use potting soil mix instead of garden soil. Potting soil is less dense than garden soil, making it easier for drainage. Plus, it’s already packed with nutrients your hydrangea needs to bloom. When you do need to fertilize, do so in spring with an all-purpose or rose fertilizer.
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Pruning and Overwintering Dwarf Hydrangeas
It’s not usually necessary to prune dwarf hydrangeas to keep them small, but pruning keeps them looking their best. The right time depends on which type of hydrangea you have (some bloom on old wood and some on new wood). Prune once a year in late fall or early spring when they’re dormant to encourage growth after winter. A good rule of thumb is to cut them back by one-third of their size.
If your dwarf hydrangea won’t be able to withstand winter temperatures while dormant, bring the plant inside to overwinter. An unheated shed or a garage that receives decent light is a good choice.
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3 Dwarf Hydrangea Varieties to Try
Pink Elf French Hydrangea
Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Pia,’ Zones 5 to 9
These hydrangea may be tiny but their hot pink flowers pack a punch. This dwarf hydrangea variety grows quickly but tops out at 18 inches. Its ultra-compact size makes it the perfect plant for even the tiniest of patios. Flowers are a rich pink that grow in mophead clusters that last through summer. Green, tapered foliage offers a nice contrast.
Let’s Dance Rhythmic Blue
Hydrangea macrophylla, Zones 5 to 9
The trick to getting deep blue blooms out of this hydrangea is in the soil. Acidic soil increases the amount of aluminum in the soil, which is what turns hydrangeas blue. If you’re growing your hydrangeas in alkaline soil, you’ll see pink blooms instead. You can change the pH levels of your soil by adding aluminum sulfate, which increases acidity. Check your local garden center for options.
No matter the color of your Let’s Dance Rhythmic Blue hydrangeas, you’ll enjoy months of fresh, uniquely rectangle-shaped flowers.
Little Lime Hardy Hydrangea
Hydrangea paniculata ‘Jane,’ Zones 3 to 9
If you love the classic Limelight hydrangea but need something more compact, check out Little Lime. While classic Limelight grows up to 8 feet tall, its dwarf hydrangea cousin only reaches 3 to 5 feet at maturity. Little Lime hydrangea is a good option for mixed borders but it looks great in containers, too. You’ll enjoy neat green flowers in summer that warm up to pink in fall.
What makes Little Lime a standout is its reliability. It’s not too fussy about soil and can tolerate a wider temperature range than other dwarf hydrangeas.
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